A Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Fr. Patrick O’Connor in St. James’ Church, Athboy on Friday 7th September in gratitude, acknowledgement, and appreciation for the 18 years he served as our Parish Priest. It was a very moving, heartfelt, and fitting celebration, which drew a huge attendance. The Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Padraig McMahon, our new Parish priest, Fr Colm Murtagh and Fr Frank Geoghegan, both from Kildalkey. Three choirs from the parish participated and enhanced the liturgy greatly.
Fr. O’Connor, a native of Mullingar, served as curate in Kinnegad and Moylagh before being appointed parish priest here in 2000. In March of this year, he was appointed PP of Dunboyne and in August, his active ministry began there when he moved.
As he stated in his homily, there are a number of connections between the two parishes of Athboy and Dunboyne. Firstly, Fr Michael Conlan came from Dunboyne to Athboy in 1935. He remained as PP here until his death at the age of 91 in July 1961. Secondly the organ here in St. James’ Church was purchased from the Dominican Convent in Eccles Street, Dublin as was the cross over the high altar in Dunboyne. He also stated that of all of the parish priests who served in Athboy parish over the centuries, he is only the third PP to be moved. The first was Fr John Burke who was translated to Castlepollard in 1830 and the second Fr N. Moore to Ballinabrackey in 1875. Being a priest and means saying “yes.” In Fr. Pat’s life, after the huge YES of ordination, he answered yes three times in his life; yes to Moylagh, yes to Athboy and yes to Dunboyne. He thanked everyone for their support and asked for their continued prayers.
A Presentation followed in the Darnley Lodge Hotel where Fr.O’Connor was presented with a Waterford Crystal clock. The presentation was made by Sr Carmel Brennan, who has dedicated her life to the parish of Athboy and by Mrs Carmel Evans, Fr Pat’s long-standing housekeeper. Mr. Tommy Mullen, chair of the organising committee, thanked everyone in the parish and beyond who contributed so generously to the collection.
In his address, Tommy stated the Fr. Pat was responsible for an expenditure of €23.5m on the schools in our parish – O’Growney NS €4m and over €1m on the old school, the new Community School €17.5m, Rathcairn NS extension €850,000 and Rathmore NS extension €650,000. Furthermore, he oversaw major structural renovations to our parish buildings, totalling €2.8m including a major renovation of St. James’ Church, refurbishment of and the reroofing of the Parochial House, reinstating the Church bell, the restoration of the Church organ and the upgrading of St. James’ Cemetery. Fr. Pat’s work was done with humility, discretion, and diligence. “Much of Fr Pat’s work was unseen, his support and visits to the sick, those in hospital and those bereaved were most appreciated. Fr. Pat was available 24/7, he had no clock card, and I think the people of Athboy will always remember that.”
As we bid a very fond farewell to Fr Pat, we wish him good health and happiness in Dunboyne and we hope he will always carry a little bit of Athboy in his heart.
The following participated in the Mass:
First Reading Luke McElhinney
Second Reading Mairead Ní Cheallaigh, Principal Rathcairn NS
Prayers of the Faithful Cormac Ennis, Niamh Dunphy, Laura Creagh, Alexandra O’Connor, Maeve Ennis, Michael Dunphy.
Offertory Procession John Brennan, Principal O’Growney NS
Michael McCann, Principal Rathmore NS
Choirs Athboy Church Folk Group
Cór Rath Chairn
St James’ Choir
Organist Noel Griffin